Culture, Heritage tour guide at Polokwane Municipality, Gideon Mokwena has described the ancient friction method of making fire as one of the efficient methods which can still be practiced in modern society.
The technique was used by ancient people and bushmen in the olden days to prepare fire to cook on.
Explaining the technique, Mokwena said the bushmen used the passive hard and dried Marula root to make fire.“They made a hole in the passive Marula root and filled it with fine scraps. Then they put a hard root into the hole and used their hands to move the root back and forth, pressing hard, until the fine dust of the shavings glows to bring an inflammable material close. The scrapings start to glow in less than 30 seconds,” Mokwena said.
He also added that this method was used by most men in the olden days to test the potency of young men who want to marry their daughters. “Traditionally if you can make fire by a friction technique you were regarded as a real man. They would literally give the potential groom the stick and the root and allocate a time for him, and if he manages to start the fire within the stipulated time, he has clearly proven himself as a real man and someone who can ignite, hold and sustain the marriage. The technique is not an easy one, you need power, precision and endurance to complete the task.”
He says his wish is to see the indigenous knowledge included in school curriculums. “It will assist the learners to know how their grandparents and forefathers lived and they will also impart the knowledge to future generations. This technique can still be practiced by everyone in their households for leisure and adventure. It will also be lovely to see students learning more about such techniques at schools.”
Story: Herbert Rachuene